• How Others Do It: Carnival Engages First- and Second-Year Students in Career Services

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    June 26, 2013

    This fall, Georgia State University’s (GSU) career services office will hold its fourth Career Carnival, which is designed to engage first- and second-year students in career services and introduce them to career development constructs in a fun way.

    “We hold it early in the semester, after the students have gone through orientation,” explains Kevin Gaw, GSU’s senior director of career services. “They have just heard about many campus programs and offices, so this is a way to make career services memorable in a fun—not rigid—way.”

    The two-hour Career Carnival features approximately 10 booths operated by staff and students associated with GSU’s career services office. Each booth is a creative effort to engage students, using a game or a contest.

    For example, there’s a tie-tying contest that helps students understand the importance of preparation and presentation, a climbing wall that features the stages of career development, a spinning-wheel game that focuses on opportunities other than an entry-level career position after college, and a “fortune teller” who describes the Holland Code to students who seek their “career fortunes.”

    Each booth has one career development-oriented student learning outcome (SLO) associated with it. The SLO drives the booth activity—never the other way around.

    “This is key,” Gaw points out. “The SLOs need to be defined and operationalized first. This ensures the ‘integrity’ of the teaching effort.”

    Another key to the success of the GSU’s Career Carnival is practicing and testing the booth activities.

    “We test them out and tweak them to make sure they work effectively,” Gaw suggests. “Practicing prior to the event makes such a difference. Something may make sense in your head, but it may not sound right when it’s spoken. And a trial run helps us identify and eliminate technical problems with the booths.”

    He adds that the event has benefitted from career services developing partnerships—some very natural partnerships—with other campus offices and groups. For example, the career services office is partnering with the school’s ROTC program on the climbing wall booth, and the school’s dean of student conduct will help teach students how the choices they make today can influence their career development.

    “There is a lot of effort up front—planning, creating, testing, practicing,” Gaw says. “But the Career Carnival is always a hit, and it is a fun way to introduce first- and second-year students to career services and get these students thinking about their goals.”

How Others Do It: Carnival Engages First- and Second-Year Students in Career Services